Al: Panama Dude
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Panama, etc.
Hey there, well, my name is Al McCullough. I’m an avid watcher of all things comedy, and I write some funny stuff myself. I’ve performed stand up, written screenplays, oh, and also web content and technical documentation to make a few bucks. I moved to Panama in August of 2014 for a change of pace, and to focus on writing.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Before I even got here. I had read many blogs about Panama, mostly throwing stats and figures out there, so I wanted to give everyone a different take on life in Panama, so my blog focuses on the lighter side of Panama and trying to find the humor in adjusting to life as an expat.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
- 8 Things to Expect as an Expat in Panama
- What to do when your neighbors want to eat your toilet.
- 8 tips on Making Bus Rides in Panama More Enjoyable
Tell us about the ways your new life in Panama differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
The pace of… well, everything here is much slower than back in Canada. I used to work in the IT field, and now, I’ve become known as the IT guy in town, so I guess that hasn’t changed, aside from I do it a lot less and for a lot less! I also get to write a lot more here than I could back home, and I get to do it more creatively, too. I don’t think I experienced culture shock. Our first weekend was spent drinking beers with local fisherman, and we enrolled in Spanish class right away – which I think is really essential for expats to do.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Panama? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I don’t think you can ever fully prepare. You can read blogs, books, e-books, forums, tweets, podcasts, emails and you know, you just gotta come and experience it. Only you know how hot it feels. Only you will know if the mountains are too cool. Only you will know if you suffer from Seasonal Affectedness Disorder in the rainy season, and only you know if you have the patience to burn an entire day getting something notarized and apostatized.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
One, how about my entire blog? Every post focuses on the funny side of things… but if you want an experience, I’d say when we confused the phrase “Venden Duros” with the word “Inodoros”… we thought kids wanted to eat our toilet, as mentioned in this blog post: What to do when your neighbors want to eat your toilet.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Panama?
- Visit First (for more than 2 weeks)
- Rent First (before you buy property)
- Buy a car First (buses are fun sometimes, but only some of the time)
How is the expat community in Panama? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It’s a mixed bag. At times people can be very helpful – be it in forums on Facebook or in person. Then other times, you see people getting in arguments online and crapping on the original poster for asking something like “what’s the weather like in…”
How would you summarize your expat life in Panama in a single, catchy sentence?
Similar to my blog tagline: Enjoying the Lighter Side of Panama.